I am over-the-moon thrilled to introduce you to my friend Enoch Ho, the fashion designer behind Hong Kong-based label Berayah. Initially becoming acquainted through casual Instagram chit chat, I was excited to meet up with Enoch in person when he told me he was traveling to the Pacific Northwest. We spent a lovely afternoon here in Portland at one of my favorite local coffee shops, The Albina Press, discussing faith and its role in the creative process.
I am struck by many things about Enoch: his humility; his soft-spoken yet deeply thoughtful candor; his beautiful work and intuitive understanding of women's fashion. But perhaps most of all, his dedication to creating pieces that tell a story rooted in Biblical inspiration. From a study of the Holy Spirit to the Genesis creation story, the garments of Berayah are fashionable and wearable, with geometric lines and a subtle color palette. This is wearable armour for the fearless modern women. I'm in love with every piece!
In a day and age where stereotypical Christian art is often cliché and rather groan-inducing, it's refreshing to see someone embracing Biblical motifs courageously and beautifully. The best part? Enoch's Berayah isn't a "Christian" fashion label; the Bible is simply what inspires him.
Can you introduce yourself, and give a little background to Berayah?
My name is Enoch, designer and founder of womenswear label Berayah. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I grew up pretty much just like your average run-of-the-mill guy; my best subjects in school were always maths and physics, I was into games and computer stuff, I love sports and barbecue and beer. Yet I've always thought I had a bit of a design mind, and despite my academics and interests I decided to pursue art and design. I ultimately fell in love with the craft of making clothes, specifically cutting patterns that are flattering and visually refreshing. After studying visual arts in Seattle, I moved to New York to study fashion, then lived in London for a little over a year before returning to Hong Kong. After several years of working in the industry, I decided it was about time to start something, so I quit my design job and started my own label: Berayah.
What inspires your work? What specifically inspired your new gorgeous SS15 line?
The name Berayah is derived from a Hebraic name which means "God has created". From the beginning I believed inspiration came from God, and I wanted the brand name to reflect that. Now that I'm three seasons in, I believe it even more and my work can attest to that. When I begin a collection, I'll sit down somewhere, open up the Bible, and ask God to inspire me, to find a story of His to tell. For SS15, I was initially intrigued by the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, how things are often opposite to how we view in this world. I was also drawn into a very natural aesthetic, I loved the idea of oceans and waves and its surrounding landscapes, so when I read the words "no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit", the words naturally became the title and my gateway into a collection that depicts the Kingdom of Heaven.
Your work is underlaid with Biblical themes, each season's line thoughtfully interwoven with a particular message or story. How has this been received by the public, especially in your native Hong Kong?
My work is not about putting forth Christian beliefs and values, but I simply create out of something I'm personally deeply inspired by, and I think people can appreciate work that is honest and personal, wherever it stems from. I make it a point to place clues within my work, especially with the names of each garment, just to offer a glimpse into the meaning behind each piece, so there's a story that someone can discover if they wish to. I love it when I buy something, or hear a piece of music, where I can slowly unwrap and discover meanings as I go, and I hope to do the same. So far I think the work has been well received, which sometimes is hard to believe, but I'm very thankful for the support I've gotten so far.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a fashion designer?
Oh dear. Probably the fact that I'm not just a fashion designer, but I also have to run and manage a business, do sales and marketing (which is by far my weakest area), accounts and logistics... well the list is endless. If it's purely challenges of being a fashion designer, I guess it's trying to find myself and stick to my conviction. I try to take in a lot of suggestions and criticisms, and it's easy to get lost in trying to appease everyone, but ultimately I have to stick to my conviction and create work that's sincere and personal. I'll evolve, slowly perhaps, but I believe in organically growing, both as a business and as a designer.
Your work speaks to your faith beautifully — it's subtle but pervasive. Are there any other Christian artists you're inspired by?
I'm immensely inspired by the band Gungor, their music has a lot of depth and you can tell it came from a lot of internal seeking. The book "The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse" by Michael Gungor is absolutely inspiring, and it dealt with a lot of issues that a creative mind would encounter. It's very insightful and I'll recommend it to any creative person. I've also been very inspired by the music from Dry The River, whom I don't believe are Christians, but uses Biblical notions and some of the lyrics are utterly beautiful. I'd spend hours on end just listening to a couple tracks on loop, just to dwell in that mood and experience the emotions it carries.
Lastly, who is Berayah for?
Berayah is for someone who is intelligent, and loves to seek beauty in subtle and little things. Someone who enjoys stories, discoveries and journeys. It's for someone who's looking to display a quiet elegance, and are confident of their internal beauty.
Pictured in these photos, I'm wearing a few pieces from the Berayah SS14 collection. It only seemed fitting to model them where Enoch and I met up over the summer, at The Albina Press (thanks guys!). Enoch recently finished his stunning SS15 line, which you can take a peek at here.
For free shipping on all orders placed at berayah.com, enter code 9YK14Y at checkout!